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Project Illuminate

Creating Your Own Lights Set at Home

Here is a brief guide to get you started with your own lights and Arduino board. As you go through this guide, please let me know if anything is unclear or if you have any questions.

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Hardware Assembly

Once you have gathered all your supplies, you are ready to assemble your hardware.

First, carefully stretch out your lights left to right. You'll notice that each end has a connector on it---these connectors allow you to extend the strands. You'll want to remove the male connector so that you can attach the Arduino board. Find it, and carefully snip it off using your wire cutters.

You should now have four independent wires---one green data wire, one red power wire, and two white ground wires. First, let's extend each of these wires using the jumper wires. This step is not strictly necessary, however, it simplifies connecting the wires to the Arduino board.

Choose one jumper wire from the kit for each of those two wires, and then solder them onto the ends.

Next, protect the soldered connections by either wrapping electrical tape around them or using a heat shrink sleeve.

  • Finally, take the remaining two wires and connect them to the connector plug by shoving them into the openings (ground in negative, power in positive), and then screwing them in tight.

  • Congratulations! Your hardware is ready to go. Directions to connect the hardware are on this page, but you should really set up the software (instructions below) first.

    Arduino Environment
    The last thing you need to do is set up the Arduino environment and drivers on your computer. To do this, go to the Arduino homepage, and follow the Getting Started with Arduino instructions.

    Also, our framework depends on the FastLED library. Download it from its github repository, and then expand it into a location of your choice. Finally, tell the Arduino environment about its existence through the Arduino IDE menu: Sketch->Include Library->Add .ZIP Library.... Then select the folder that contains the expanded library and hit Choose. If you tell the Arduino IDE about the compressed library instead, it will uncompress the library each time it compiles, greatly increasing your compile time.

    Now you are ready to connect your lights!